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The population genetics of the causative agent of snake fungal disease indicate recent introductions to the USA

Ladner, Jason T; Palmer, Jonathan M; Ettinger, Cassandra L; Stajich, Jason E; Farrell, Terence M; Glorioso, Brad M; Lawson, Becki; ... Lorch, Jeffrey M; + view all (2022) The population genetics of the causative agent of snake fungal disease indicate recent introductions to the USA. PLOS Biology , 20 (6) , Article e3001676. 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001676. Green open access

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Abstract

Snake fungal disease (SFD; ophidiomycosis), caused by the pathogen Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (Oo), has been documented in wild snakes in North America and Eurasia, and is considered an emerging disease in the eastern United States of America. However, a lack of historical disease data has made it challenging to determine whether Oo is a recent arrival to the USA or whether SFD emergence is due to other factors. Here, we examined the genomes of 82 Oo strains to determine the pathogen’s history in the eastern USA. Oo strains from the USA formed a clade (Clade II) distinct from European strains (Clade I), and molecular dating indicated that these clades diverged too recently (approximately 2,000 years ago) for transcontinental dispersal of Oo to have occurred via natural snake movements across Beringia. A lack of nonrecombinant intermediates between clonal lineages in Clade II indicates that Oo has actually been introduced multiple times to North America from an unsampled source population, and molecular dating indicates that several of these introductions occurred within the last few hundred years. Molecular dating also indicated that the most common Clade II clonal lineages have expanded recently in the USA, with time of most recent common ancestor mean estimates ranging from 1985 to 2007 CE. The presence of Clade II in captive snakes worldwide demonstrates a potential mechanism of introduction and highlights that additional incursions are likely unless action is taken to reduce the risk of pathogen translocation and spillover into wild snake populations.

Type: Article
Title: The population genetics of the causative agent of snake fungal disease indicate recent introductions to the USA
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001676
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001676
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/).
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10150867
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